I suppose after a long blog drought I would have something important to say. But alas I don't, thus the lack of blogging. I mean there are a lot of things going on to write about but I'm so busy living them and trying to keep up with life that writing it down seems impossible. Some pretty pretty pretty big things have been happening lately. I recently defeated a demon that has been clawing at my back for 5 years. The freedom of this beast is a little overwhelming and a bit scary because I forgot what it was like to live without always looking over your shoulder. I still do sometimes.
New people have been swirling in and out of my life, so fast they're like whispy whisps of whispers in the days and nights. I can make out the forms of all these new people but I don't ever seem to be able to grasp them as the float by. A few constants remain, family life is uneasy but positive, its seems like the peaceful moments in our family come from everyone knowing that everyone else is finally doing fine, if even for a day, but hopefully more. Those moments seem so difficult to grasp sometimes. So many things to balance. Family relationships, romantic relationships, friendship, career relationships, finances, leisure, soul searching, playing music, appreciating music, physical fitness, mental fitness and regulating external chemical intake.
Things that are a constant nag lately are worries of money. Stupid stupid money that makes the mice run the race. It buys many things, like concert tickets, and power bills, and new microphones, and things and more things and then some things. And whats worse I want these things. I want stuff now, how did that happen, I used to pride myself on only a few things, my ukulele Bertha, my woven yarn-billed hat from a friend in Australia, my Subaru Warrior, and a 1982 WSU hooded sweatshirt worn nearly through from love. Now I have many things, and want more. Is it possible that America has its hooks in me?
Also, I'm getting kinda fat. No long walks on the tundra and no teaching PE, and no snowmobile airport pick ups along with lower 48 restaurant food have made old Kale a little pot belly. Its like a sign of laziness. My daily reminder that I should be doing better to take care of myself, but monday comes and its back to the routine. Kale-self goes back on the burner for sheer convenience. So many other things to take care of besides the gut. I can only hope that the summer outdoors doing manual labor will get me back to bad ass I can be.
And work, oh work. Not teaching. Not school. Not learning. WORK. I've had successes. I've had shining moments in teaching. I'm making a difference. But the atmosphere at my school is pretty desperate and negative and it works its way into your bones by the end of the day. I can't wait for summer simply because I don't know how many more months of negativity I can stand.
I was telling my roomate Kyle about something I've realized at school. The truest teaching moments for me, the reason that keeps teachers going, isn't those shining glimmers of a lightbulb flashing in the brain of a young learner, but the lazer beams of light that come out of a kid when the kid FLIPS. And flip you say, what is flipping a kid?
Well, flipping a kid has become my passion and my art at work. Its a weird theory, but its worked many times for me and I'm hoping to continue to hone it forever. When you see a kid that has been shit on by life, and I mean elephant shit on, stuff you and I never had to go through, and they've dealt with in whatever way was most effective, they've lashed out like a snake in a corner and, or shut down like a rock, or got wasted to make it go away, and there is simply no granules of a hopeful life left in them, you simply have to infect them with what you got, real logical positivity towards the awesome.
Most kids in this situation have lost the ability to find the forest from the shit trees. This is where logic, planning and rational thought are the most amazing with kids. If you sit down day after day and help the kid plan on getting out of shit, then eventually one day the kid will pull back the last branch of the shit forest and gaze into the vast golden valley of realizing they can take care of themselves and even have a pretty ok life. It takes patience, careful character study, and thinking out loud for the kid so that they can start to see how a good decision would like in the situation they just fucked up.
I'll tell you what doesn't help these kids. Kicking them out of class for sagging their pants, chewing gum or drinking a gatorade. I'll tell you what doesn't help these kids, silent rooms of rows and paper. Sometimes the best lessons and classes are the ones that are spontaneous and family building. An, argument, a realization, you just stop the class and point out logically and realistically what happened or whats actually going on and every can all see and agree. If you can string together enough moments where your kids have all shared the same thought then they can truly know how similar we all are and let theirselves come out and relax.
When you see that dark hollow of a kids eye light up as they realize for the first time they're not a failure and that they actually want to and can get better, it is the moment they flip. A flipped student is like a person who wants to get sober for the first time. They might stumble and fall along the way, but their ship is righted and going in the correct direction. And to be clear, I don't mean that they're going in the Anglo-Saxon Religious Upstanding route, they're going on a route that at least they can choose. Choice and ultimate choices is the meaning of freedom (and the burden). But when you have no choices and no where to turn, there are no choices but simply mazes.
Am I making the right choices myself? Am I free finally? Sometimes it sure doesn't feel like it. Other times I truly fly.